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How Pakistan is keeping disability inclusion on the SDG agenda

Munazza Gillani, July 2019
A photo of a large group of people, many of them using wheelchairs.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have ushered in a new era of global development.

Of the 17 goals, five are explicit about disability, and there are no less than 11 references to disability in total. To monitor progress towards achieving the SDGs, the Economic and Social Council of the UN (ECOSOC) has planned an annual review and high-level discussion on selected SDG themes in the form of a High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) and a ministerial meeting.

The priority goals for Pakistan to review at the 2019 HLPF are Goals 4, 8, 10, 13, 16 and 17. As part of the follow-up and review mechanism for the SDGs, member states are encouraged to produce voluntary national reviews (VNRs). VNRs cover all SDGs. Pakistan has adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as its national development agenda, and the country’s application to submit a VNR for the 2019 HLPF was accepted last year.

Creating the Pakistan Disability Perspective VNR report

Over two years, Sightsavers in Pakistan worked with strategic stakeholders and national partners to develop a VNR report that focused on disability. This work included:

  • a series of discussions with the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms in Pakistan to develop a consultation workshop.
  • multi-stakeholder consultations and interviews for the development of an Alternate National UNCRPD Report.
  • national-level stakeholder consultations to formulate the Pakistan Charter of Demands in preparation for the Global Disability Summit in 2018.

The Pakistan Disability Perspective VNR report focuses on Goals 4, 8, 10, 16 and 17 and was supported and facilitated by Sightsavers through a collaborative effort of national partners, including DPO partner STEP, civil society network Pakistan Development Alliance, Social and Economic Development Associates (SEDA) and Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA), as well as two international partners, CBM and Handicap International. The process was co-hosted and endorsed by the Ministry for Planning, Development and Reforms with a high level participation (Parliamentary Secretary and Chief SDGs Unit) which boosted the morale and optimism of people with disabilities and their representative bodies.

The key: consultation and collaboration

The consultation engaged hundreds of people with disabilities championing inclusion in different spheres of life, as well as disabled people’s organisations, national and district level disability networks, and key stakeholders from civil society and government.

Most importantly, there has been a very active contribution in the national VNR report by Pakistan’s largest civil society network, AWAZ/Pakistan Development Alliance, part of the Transparency, Accountability & Participation network (made up of more than 250 civil society organizations from over 60 countries).  They conducted robust VNR consultations with more than 68 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in working in all domains of development in Pakistan. These member NGOs also involved people with disabilities in all of their district-focused VNR consultations meetings.

The outcome

As a result of this rich consultation process, the key recommendations of the disability perspective VNR report have been adopted by the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms for the national VNR report. The latest version of the Pakistan VNR report is available on the official website of the SDGs and  makes strong references to people with disabilities – a total of 15 times in different sections of the report.

This disability-inclusive VNR consultation process was appreciated by the Working Group on the Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities at its fifth session held in Bangkok in February 2019, and was highlighted as a case example of disability inclusion for VNR reporting. The government of Pakistan was asked to share its work at the Regional Workshop for VNR preparation.

The current VNR report sets the way forward for the consideration and follow-up of all related legislatures, decision-makers, stakeholders and the people of Pakistan, who are the real beneficiaries and custodians of commitments made under Agenda 2030 for social transformation and sustainable development.

Sightsavers is strongly committed to the follow-up process at the High-Level Political Forum, and for later joined-up advocacy with the relevant government officials. We are determined to see the implementation of the key recommendations made for disability inclusion and mainstreaming within the national VNR report, and we will continue to work towards this goal.

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Sightsavers logo.Munazza Gilani
Munazza is country director of Sightsavers’ office in Pakistan.

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